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The Vital Virtual Lane

‘Inevitable not to notice’. This is without a doubt the slogan for this year. The nation of Trinidad and Tobago has gone past the electoral mood to what many would refer to as ‘back to reality’. If you have not yet noticed, a blind eye must have been turned at the many changes occurring to the once ‘normal’ livelihoods of Caribbean businesses. Not diminishing the many factors contributing to the extreme difficult experiences being faced by Caribbean companies and the and various sectors, ahead may very well be the golden gate awaiting your company’s arrival. Confusing? We are referring to the pathway to going digital or completely virtual as a company. Many of us in the Caribbean have never given the idea much thought until the pandemic struck and we are now restricted from many norms such as having an office filled with staff and customers.

For the past 6 months we have seen tremendous shifts to facilitate health and safety, so why not explore the probability of your company thriving in the digital world. As with anything it is critical to maintain your company’s goals and mission in whatever decisions that are to be made.

Let’s take a fairly in-depth look at the advantages of moving away from a physical office to a virtual one.

According to the World Economic Forum virtual teams, flexible working hours is seen as one of the biggest drivers of transformation of business models in many industries. Now, as upcoming, new or experienced business executives, let us explore how going digital may benefit your company in the Caribbean through this pandemic.

  1. Reduced Expenses - Admittedly many companies are stuck with significantly high maintenance bills, e.g., utilities, office equipment, health and safety measurements, rent and the list can probably create an entire paragraph. It goes without saying that these expenses are hefty and saving on each listed item can drastically keep your organization afloat and allow for the allocation of funds in various departments of your company.

  2. Satisfied Workforce and higher productivity - In the Caribbean we seem to have prioritized working from offices. Many see this as a sign of success, when in reality we have rarely taken the time to understand the persons hired and the ways in which they are comfortable to produce the highest standard of work. Countless studies have highlighted that employees are at a higher level of happiness when afforded the opportunity to work from home, a coffee shop or simply a place of comfort. This by definition is a win for any company that is aiming for the highest quality of work to be carried out by its employees. In a study done by CoSo Cloud in 2015, 77% reported greater productivity and 52% noted they would be less likely to take time off. Higher levels of productivity and quality produced by the availability of working remotely, now raise your hand if you know an employer who would not like the sound of this data?

  3. Broader Labour Tool and Market - With no limitation to geographically expanding or hiring persons, your company can only benefit from this. Without denying the fact that there are thousands of companies that hire internationally and regionally, having a virtual office places you in an even greater position. All employees are ideally engaged in the same manner and it drastically reduces employer worry about where employees are located, cost as it relates to transportation, and productivity based on commuting.

As with everything, there are two sides and with managing a virtual office there are challenges. However, challenges that all have solutions once research, effort and critical thinking skills are practised. Many have noted that running a digital company they are met with lower levels of team communication, camaraderie & culture. Of course, in-person conversations are unmatched but with the advances in technology we are finding several ways of maintaining better online communication, which will in the long term benefit the culture of companies and brands.

Having a remote office may be your company’s way forward, do the research, pool together your team, listen to their needs, review what your company’s goals and mission are and take the leap to acclimatizing to the new world.